Sussex Police chief constable Giles York was joined by other dignitaries on Shoreham’s Old Toll Bridge yesterday afternoon to leave floral tributes to victims of Saturday’s devastating air crash.
The sombre occasion was another reminder of the pain and suffering felt across Sussex and beyond.
Speaking to the Herald from the bridge, Mr York said: “As you can see from what’s around us at the moment with the huge numbers of flowers, this is a really significant impact for the community.
“They’ve had the main road closed but I’ve had very little complaint coming through around that. There’s also a Red Cross meal van up at the site and it’s got letters taped to it saying ‘thank you very much for everything you’re doing’.
“I think communication is absolutely at the heart of this, certainly for the community, to let them know what we’re doing. Really at the heart of this is the families that have lost someone. They will be wanting answers and what we want to do is find the those answers.”
Since the incident, Sussex Police has received more than 200 calls from families concerned missing relatives might have been harmed in the incident.
Mr York said he spoke with call operators on the night of the crash.
“At those early stages we had very little information so what we tried to do is give a human response,” he said. “Yet ultimately, when we stand in Penny’s (Schofield, West Sussex coroner) court we have to be able to say beyond any doubt that we know this is this person. At the earlier stages we have to say ‘we think it’s highly likely your loved one may be involved. Because we think their car is there, because we think another piece of their property is there and you’re telling us they’re missing and were around there at that time’.”
Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, said: “This is the worst civilian loss of life since 7/7. It’s a huge tragedy. I’m struck by just how the community has rallied around and just have immense pride in the professional way the emergency services have done their job. If there’s one crumb of comfort it’s what a fantastic job our emergency services have done.”
Mr Loughton also praised M&S for sending socks to officers working at the crash site in torrential rain as well as the taxi firm which offered free lifts to people needing to collect their vehicles from the airfield.
Following the incident, Mr Loughton urged people not to make any knee-jerk reactions with regards to future airshows.
He said: “This is a charity air show. It’s been run brilliantly for 26 years. It’s raised over £2million for RAFA (Royal Air Forces Association). They work relentlessly throughout the year, and this horrible tragic accident wasn’t deserved and nobody envisaged it. Let’s find out what exactly went on before rushing to judgement.”
Worthing Borough Council leader Dan Humphreys said: “Like the rest of the community I’m still pretty shell-shocked that something like this has happened.”
He added that he was in awe of the way the emergency services and other agencies had reacted to the incident and praised the community spirit in Adur and Worthing.
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